Sheffield’s thousands of hidden young carers need support from schools

Thomas and Rebecca, young carers in Sheffield and members of Young Carers National Voice

A Sheffield MP has called for more help as it was revealed that there are more than 7,300 young carers who are going unrecognised in the city.

Young carers across the country have put together a petition calling on the education secretary Gavin Williamson to make having a Designated Young Carers Lead a legal requirement in schools.

The petition is backed by Paul Blomfield MP for Sheffield Central, who is patron for Sheffield Young Carers.

In a letter to the people of Sheffield, members of Young Careers National Voice including carers Rebecca and Thomas from the city, said: “School can be really hard due to our caring responsibilities.

“We often end up missing days or arriving late and, when we’re there, we’re tired, stressed, get behind on our work and lots of us are bullied.”

Today is Young Carers Action Day, with the theme of protecting these hidden young carers’ futures.

The Designated Young Carer Lead could be any member of staff in school, and would mean that young carers could open up more easily about their struggles, avoid punishment for things like being late for school, and not have to repeatedly explain their situation.

Emily Thew, education development worker at Sheffield Young Carers, said: “It can be really hard for young people to feel that they can disclose to services and professionals- it’s about finding someone they trust.

“If schools talk about Young Carers Action Day, that’s a great way for young carers to realise it’s safe to tell someone about this.”

Sheffield Young Carers offers training with schools, but this is not required in teacher training or built into the school system, which means that a lot of staff still may not feel comfortable in identifying young carers.

It aims to get young carers’ skills recognised by employers, and will be running a virtual careers session tonight with speakers from various creative industries including Sheffield-born Elizabeth Henstridge from Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Today’s awareness raising campaign also includes #Hair2Care on Twitter, where people wear a wacky hairstyle or wig on social media or into school or work to generate discussions about young carers.

Written by Chloe Aslett

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